ONE Green Building Rating System for Canada, Experts Say

At last weeks Green Real Estate Conference, real estate executives called for Canada to move toward having one Green Building rating system.

In Canada there are two green building rating systems, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) administered by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) and BOMA GoGreen administered by BOMA Canada.   The LEED program targets newly constructed buildings and commercial interiors. BOMA GoGreen is for existing buildings and provides an online assessment tool and certification program.

According to Tim McGrath, Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Branch, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC),  "The real estate industry needs to choose one rating system.“ The Federal Government currently uses both LEED and BOMA GoGreen Plus.

The Federal Government only recently signed an agreement with BOMA for the GoGreen Plus Program, an alliance that was announced in December 2005. “The intent is for the PWGSC to use the GoGreen Plus assessment tool but not the certification program,” said McGrath.

According to McGrath, "The BOMA GoGreen Plus system is not adequate. If a higher standard is not set then we will fall behind with the development of the existing building stock. It is not high enough for what Canadians want to see in this country."

The reason the BOMA GoGreen Plus program is being adopted said McGrath is "the Federal Government wants to move toward 'a private sector' standard of performance for its building stock."

Tim McGrath said he wants the industry to “hurry up” and choose one Green Building rating system.  He added he “hoped that the CaGBC and BOMA would reach an agreement” on this issue.  He added, “If the real estate industry fails to choose a rating system, then the Federal Government may decide for it.”

Deb Cross, Executive Vice President of BOMA Canada, who was not at the conference and reached later for comment said, "PWGSC, the
Office of Greening Government Operations and BOMA Canada have all worked
long and hard to ensure that BOMA Go Green Plus is the right program. The
federal government chose this system because it met their needs for a
private-sector assessment tool, delivers the benchmarking they require,
matches their KPI."

Cross added, "The commercial real estate industry in Canada has in fact chosen one
program. The industry in Canada has overwhelmingly accepted and chosen BOMA
Go Green, with almost every major landlord, major pension funds and a number
of provincial and municipal governments, endorsing it and/or committing to
undertake the program across their portfolios."

Both LEED and BOMA GoGreen rating systems have doubled registration to their programs in the past twelve months (Green Buildings Double In Number In One Year – March 26, 2007). Since the criteria for certification and registration are quite different for the two progams it is difficult to compare them based on enrollment numbers.

LEED currently has about 60 certified by the CaGBC and 400 registered buildings. BOMA currently has over 280
Go Green-certified commercial buildings in Canada, of which almost 50 are Go
Green Plus, certified by BOMA Canada. Over 40 more buildings are in the
application stage.

Paul Morassuitti, Executive Vice President, Valuation, Altus Helyar who was at the conference said “The European Unions rating system for buildings is across all of the EU. The ratings are displayed on the buildings.”

Morassuitti added, “Rating systems are ‘murky’. Better to move to one standardized rating system. Developers want to know what the rules are. “

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has several LEED programs not yet offered in Canada including a LEED for Existing Buildings (EB).  The CaGBC intends to launch LEED EB in Canada in the future.

Steve Carpenter, President, Enermodal Engineering said "As far as he is concerned there is only one rating system and it is LEED.   We are going to get swamped by the U.S.,” he added, with reference to the rapid acceptance and growth of LEED EB in the U.S.

There are currently six Canadian buildings registered with LEED EB program offered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) including the ICAO Building in Montreal, the McMichael Art Gallery near Toronto and Centre des congres de Quebec in Quebec City.

“The CaGBC, introduction of LEED EB into Canada is restricted by the Councils ability to fund the program,” according to Johnathan Westeinde, Managing Partner, Windmill Development Group Ltd. and a director of the CaGBC.  “The USGBC has historically received a higher level of funding from the Department of Energy in the US than the CaGBC.”

Not only is the CaGBC's financial support from the Federal Government lower than in the US, the Canadian Government has also eliminated the Commercial Building Incentive Program (CBIP) .

Late last year the BOMA International and the USGBC announced they would be teaming up to promote environmentally sound building practices.  Their plan is to run joint educational programs such as web-based seminars on topics like energy efficiency and green buildings applications as well as sharing best practices. (Globe St., April 20, 2007)

BOMA International has formed a committee to consider strategic issues pertaining to the organizations relationship to partners and programs in the green building and environment sectors. BOMA Canada has offered to participate in the task force and contirbute its wealth of knowledge concerning the GoGreen Program.

Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

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Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

Read more

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